The modern office has gone through a number of evolutionary changes, from cubicle farms to open floor plans and then the introduction of ping pong and football tables. More recently, COVID-19 has also triggered changes to the work environment. Although office trends come and go, one thing that remains constant is the impact that the office environment can have on employee mental health and wellbeing.
Studies show that the average British employee spends 34 hours of their week working. With workers spending so much time in the office, it isn’t surprising that the workplace has such an impact on their mental health. A great workspace design can lead to a reduction in stress and an increase in employee productivity. Employees need to feel comfortable and at ease in their work environment if they are to produce their best work. So, it is essential for employers to consider employee wellbeing when planning their next office fitout.
When considering office design, it’s key to hit the balance between giving your employees space and privacy for them to focus on specific tasks, and creating an open environment for two-way communication.
Office partitions and glass cubicles with the right design are a great way to split up office space without cutting off communication and making employees feel isolated. They can also be a more cost-effective alternative to solid walls and provide flexibility to make adjustments when necessary.
Have you considered lighting in your office? Are your employees in view of a window? Studies show that employees seated near a window experience decreased eyestrain and headaches. Not to mention the added benefit of air circulation. Seating workers close to a window isn’t always an option so here are a few small alterations you can implement to make a big difference:
- Move big, bulky furniture which blocks sunlight
- Consider adding skylights if suitable for the building
- Replace broken and flickering lights
- Layer different lighting such as ambient and brighter lighting for focussed tasks
- Opt for dimmable LED lighting over fluorescent lighting
The office should be a place of comfort. If your employees are comfortable, they’ll be happier, more able to focus and more productive. The right chair in the correct position paired with the perfect desk can reduce back problems and muscle fatigue, a common cause of lost work time.
Provide your staff with different areas to work in the day with the ability to alternate from sitting to standing. Create quiet zones for focussed working and breakout areas for creative brainstorming and teamwork. This will help to break up the day for employees and keep their minds fresh.
Not only is it important for your staff to be comfortable while working, it’s also beneficial for them to have a comfy place to rest and unwind on their breaks. Afterall, if they return to their workstations feeling relaxed and refreshed, they’re more likely to do a better job for the rest of the day. So consider adding sofas and padded chairs to staff relaxation areas when designing your workspace.
A great waiting area and meeting room will also help to make a good impression on guests so don’t forget these areas either.
The overall decor of an office can have a big impact on an employee’s perception of the company they work for, not to mention the impression that it can give to your clients too. Whether it’s bright and bold colours or neutral tones and natural materials, your choice says a lot about your business and if put together considerately, office decor can help create an environment that employees are proud of.
Above all, investing in an office refurbishment demonstrates your commitment to your team and staff members are much more likely to work hard for a business that tends to their wellbeing. It’s a proven tool for both attraction and retention and it can certainly play a part in futureproofing your business for years to come.
If you're relocating to new offices, or would like to refresh your current working space, please get in touch and organise a consultation with one of our experts to further explore the interior design and social distancing solutions available to you.